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U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN)

ATDD Modernizing Historical Climatology Network to Capture the Most Accurate Climate Information

U.S. Historical Climatology Network

This U.S. Historical Climatology Network station is located in Kodachrome Basin State Park near the town of Tropic, Utah.

Keeping track of climate data over an extended period of time is key to accurately detecting and monitoring factors that could affect long-term climate change. Through the Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division (ATDD), the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) works closely with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to perform lower atmosphere research in the areas of air quality, contaminant dispersion and climate.

On the heels of the recent implementation of the U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN), ATDD is currently assisting with the modernization of the U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN), which was established more than 100 years ago to assist in the detection of regional climate change by collecting monthly averages of maximum, minimum, and mean temperatures and total precipitation.

As the network has matured, NOAA designated the USHCN for modernization to better meet its mission of providing the nation with data regarding the state of a region's climate quality. To ensure the most accurate data are collected throughout the network, ATDD is participating in a pilot project to add 141 new USHCN stations in the southwest climate region. The pilot project is part of NOAA's goal to modernize 1,000 of its existing 1,221 USHCN stations.

ATDD is leading the installation, calibration and maintenance of the new, automated stations that will collect temperature and precipitation data every five minutes. Each new station includes triple redundant temperature and precipitation sensors for reliability. Additionally, the station is expandable to allow for any future interest in measuring soil temperature, soil moisture, snow fall and snow depth. The first 10 were turned on in early October 2009 with additional stations expected to come online bi-monthly through 2011.

The ultimate goal is for both the USHCN and the USCRN to work together to deliver accurate, high-quality data to users studying climate trends.